U3A Network Conference Reception

(LM Reception Room)

Thank you, Ian Taylor and welcome, everyone, to this reception. I would like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.

I would also like to acknowledge Mr Bob Ellis your distinguished guest speaker as well as an outstanding exponent of the many benefits of life-long learning, and I acknowledge your other conference speakers.

When the U3A movement began in France in the early 1970s, few people would have imagined its world-wide reach, or indeed that somewhere like Australia would adopt the movement so enthusiastically.

I believe that, per capita, we now have the greatest number of U3A groups of any country, and the network is still expanding, with the Sydney U3A being one of the more recent additions.

Council was pleased to support its foundation.

Building healthy, strong and lively communities is an important part of our work, and U3A helps achieve those ends.

It provides intellectual stimulation, opportunities to continue learning, to build bonds in your local community and to meet new people. It provides physical activities as well as intellectual enrichment and it allows everyone to be teachers as well as learners - a very democratic return to the original idea of university as a community of scholars who taught each other.
It also operates on principles of voluntary self-help that are significant indicators of strong and cohesive communities. As I have said many times in addressing a huge range of community groups, "community" is you, it's me, it's all of us.

Once we grasp that basic concept, it empowers us to act for the common good.

In an ageing population, U3A is a powerful affirmation of the possibilities inherent in "the third age" and the valuable contributions that older people can and will continue to make to their local community, their city and their country.

In fact, it's a very refreshing antidote to the youth obsessed "twittersphere".

So whether you're engaged in philosophical debate, or enjoying a bush walk, whether you're learning music or indulging in French conversation, keep enjoying it, let other people know about it and keep building the U3A community.

We are also happy to have the support of City U3A members in working on strategies for shared streets - to raise awareness among both bike-riders and pedestrians that the streets are there for everyone to share, and to share safely. It's very important to us to have this input from the over 55-s and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank your members for their help.

We all recognise how important is it for people who live and work in the City to have access to parks, open public spaces and public facilities. Alternative modes of transport are required to further enable accessibility. Let us work together to enliven the City by teaching and encouraging each other to exhibit everyday common courtesies to make these places fun, friendly and sustainable.

I'd also like to wish you all success in and a thriving future for U3A, and a stimulating conference.

Thank you.